Advanced countries should shoulder more responsibility in the fight against climate change to allow other nations to complete their “first steps on the development ladder”, India’s prime minister has said.
Narendra Modi, whose country is the fourth largest carbon emitter, outlined how India has already committed to play its part and said he expected “the same from the world” with respect to responding to climate change.
More than 130 world leaders are gathering in Paris over the next two weeks to pledge billions of pounds to research and develop a technical fix to the planet’s climate woes.
He said: “The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be the bedrock of our collective enterprise.”
He added: “Anything else would be morally wrong.”
Developing countries should be allowed to grow within the confines of “what little carbon we can safely burn”, Mr Modi wrote.
“The lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder.”
Developing nations, which according to some had “powered their way to prosperity on fossil fuel when humanity was unaware of its impact”, had to shoulder more of the responsibility.
Despite changes in science and advances in renewable energy, he warned: “Just because technology exists does not mean it is affordable and accessible.”
Mr Modi wrote: “We should meet our need for clean energy and healthy habitats in a spirit of partnership, not put nations on different sides.”
He also warned that a lifestyle which “overburdens our planet” was in need of review, otherwise the “best political and technical measures will be ineffective” in solving the problem.
India has pledged to cut its emissions intensity, as at 2005 levels, by at least a third by 2030.
A big sticking point at the climate talks will be money, including how much rich countries should invest to help poor countries cope with climate change.
The amount that should be invested in renewable energy, and how much traditional oil and gas producers stand to lose if countries agree to forever reduce emissions, will also be discussed.
Narendra Modi has written an opinion piece for the Financial Times to coincide with the beginning of the UN climate summit, which formally opened yesterday.